Ice fishermen continue to enjoy success

Ice fishing surfaces in the area in some places are around six inches thick. Anglers should always exercise caution. (Star file photo)

Ice fishing surfaces in the area in some places are around six inches thick. Anglers should always exercise caution. (Star file photo)

BIG RAPIDS – As anglers head toward the endof January, the DNR says ice fishing is becoming more widespread; however, caution still needs to be used.

Anglers are targeting crappie, bluegills, bass, pike and walleye, the DNR said.

In Mecosta County, the DNR reports pike, crappie and bluegills were caught on Lake Mecosta and Chippewa Lake. There was no word on perch. Fish is slow on Tubbs Lake and Horsehead Lake.

Frank’s Sporting Goods in Morley reports have been provided that people are getting a lot of perch and bluegills. There’s been no word on pike.

“Ice fishing right now is the best it’s been all season,” Tom Vernon, a local fishing guide, said. “They’re fishing Morley Pond, they’re fishing everything right now.”

Greg Clark of Schafer’s Bait and Sporting Goods in Weidman agrees and points out pan fishing remains strong in his area.

“It’s not too bad,” he said. “Chippewa Lake is pretty good. So is Martiny and Six Lakes.

In Osceola County, “there’s lots of people out and about, that’s for sure,” Brad Cox, of Buck’s Country Bait Shop in LeRoy said. “Some guys are catching quite a few fish and other guys are making it out to have fun. It’s about any lake you want to say. I’ve heard guys catching fish on every single lake around here.”

Osceola lakes have about eight inches of ice, Cox indicated.

In northwest Michigan, there was safe ice on some small lakes in Charlevoix and Antrim counties, but anglers still need to be cautious.

The DNR reported at Lakes Cadillac and Mitchell, ice fishing is going strong on both lakes, with lots of anglers out.

In Manistee County, anglers are getting panfish on some of the smaller lakes, the DNR said, adding the Manistee River continues to produce a small number of steelhead, including some impressive fish.

“There’s a little bit of fishing going on, but not a lot,” Larry Scharich, of Shipwatch Marina in Manistee. “There’s been a little bit of boat traffic on Manistee Lake. They’re fishing for bluegills. They’re getting a few steelhead in the rivers. But there’s not a whole lot of fishing going on.

“Over at Lakes Cadillac and Mitchell, I went by there the other day and there were a bunch of people by both lakes but they always get more ice over there any way.”

The DNR said on the upper river, nymph and streamer fishing was good.

Steelhead fishing was slow at the Pentwater River.

Captain Chuck’s in Ludington reported Hamlin Lake has 2 to 4 inches of ice. Pere Marquette Lake has skim ice and is still not safe.

In Benzie County, a spokesperson at Backcast Fly Fishing Shop indicated the ice remains thin.

“They’re out and finding something on the inland lakes,” she said. “There’s no ice on Crystal Lake right now.”

Fishing Tip: Targeting perch on Lake St. Clair

Courtesy of the Michigan DNR

When anglers think of Lake St. Clair, they often think of bass or muskellunge fishing – but during the winter months, many think of it as a yellow perch destination.

There are a few techniques to target fish on the lake, including staying on the move and focusing on areas where the perch are most likely to be found. Perch on Lake St. Clair often will hang out on the vast, shallow flats as they look for smaller fish to prey on. Since structure is limited during the winter months, they’ll use the shade of the ice cover to fill in that role. Fishing these areas can often offer anglers great success with large-size fish.

Want even more tips for fishing yellow perch – and not just on Lake St. Clair? Visit the yellow perch page on the DNR website.

If you’re headed out fishing, please do your part to keep yourself and others safe by following COVID-19 public health and safety guidelines. Go fishing only if you’re feeling well. Practice proper social distancing (at least 6 feet away from people who don’t live in your household) and keep a face covering handy for when social distancing cannot be maintained. Frequently wash your hands with soap and warm water, or use hand sanitizer.

All anglers 17 years of age and older are required to have a fishing license.